Sarajevo Peace Event 2014

By: Asad Saleem and Arundhati Bose

From the June 6 – 9, 2014, the city of Sarajevo hosted the ‘Sarajevo Peace Event 2014.’ The event marked 100 years after the beginning of World War I by speaking out against war and violence. The ‘Peace Event’ was organized with the motive to promote a culture of peace through the promotion of non-violent theories and practices. The aim of the organizers and participants was to raise awareness, campaign, inform and discuss the processes that can be used and, the advantages of these processes and of creating a culture of peace. This theme reoccurred throughout the conference and resonated through all the various events and activities that had been organized. A conscious effort of the organizers was to ensure that Sarajevo might henceforth be remembered as a site where over 3000 peace activists and students working for peace gathered in 2014 to promote a culture of peace and to build networks to pursue the movement of establishing a culture of peace; far removed from its more popular image of the site where a high profile assassination a century ago sparked off a World War.


Photo credit: Arundhati Bose and Sarajevo Peace Event

The ‘Peace Event’ provided its participants with a wide range of activities, ranging from round tables, workshops, a youth camp and a variety of cultural activities which included exhibitions of art, music, literature and films.

The primary instrument used by the organizers and the participants in order to share and discuss their ideas and views were the 5 round table events. The round tables were held on the following topics: Gender, Women and Peace, Militarism and Alternatives, A Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, Peace and Social Justice and, Reconciliation and Dealing with the Past.

The conference offered over 200 workshops that were attended by over 800 participants from around the world. Each one of the workshops focused on one of the five topics discussed in the aforementioned round table events. The workshops offered participants the opportunity to explore and discuss issues that were of pertinence to them.

The ‘Sarajevo Peace Event’ was attended by two students from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Arundhati Bose and Asad Saleem. On the recommendation and under the direction of Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, the Junior Professor for International Conflict Management, the two traveled to the beautiful city of Sarajevo and represented the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the ‘Peace Event.’

WBS student, Arundhati Bose attended the workshop titled ‘Women in War’, which took place June 6 -9th, alongside other conferences and round tables at the event. The workshop, organized by the non-government organization of the same name, was also under the ambit of the Sarajevo Peace Event. This particular workshop that ran parallel to the Peace Event focused on the gender aspects of Armed Conflict. Over the course of three days, the conference series had a number of distinguished speakers who have demonstrated their extensive knowledge through their works, for instance, Dr. Carol Mann who spoke about the complexities of motherhood in conflicts and the perception of women as ‘mothers’ that influence war crimes against them. The conference also gave the opportunity for young students to present their ongoing research. A PhD student from Colombia presented her initial findings about the status of women as armed combatants in the FARC. One of the round tables had speakers from various country offices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), who gave a detailed description of the organization’s development through history and its current endeavours. This particular round table, while being optimistic also turned out be extremely thought provoking; making the participants and audience realise that the issues of concern almost a century ago still continue to be issues of contention. A number of exceptional women who have studied various conflicts through the gender lens made this series of seminars and round tables extremely exciting for participants who were interested in conflict and feminism. Comprising of a balanced mix of theoreticians and practitioners, the ‘Women in War’ conference series offered an excellent opportunity for students to build networks for their future careers as well as be inspired by the work being done by the women who presented their studies and experiences from the field.

WBS student, Asad Saleem attended two noteworthy workshops ‘Connecting Peace and Conflict Studies with Profession Practice’ and ‘Education for Peace and Non-Violence,’ along with a range of other workshops, round tables and cultural events. The workshop on ‘Connecting Peace and Conflict Studies with Profession Practice’ incorporated various role playing activities that aimed at trying to explore the role of peace and conflict studies in order to prepare university students adequately for the field. Through the various activities that the organizers of the workshop had planned, the participants of various ages and backgrounds tried to develop a program for a university degree that would incorporate all the knowledge and skills a student studying ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ would require. The workshop in ‘Education for Peace and Non-Violence’ focused on the education of students at a much younger age with the hope to provide them with the tools to deal with conflict in and out of the classroom. The workshop was co-chaired by Victoria Barres (Association Montessori Internationale), Christian Renoux (Coordination pour l’education a la non-violence et a la paix) and Zaira Zafarana (Comitatoitaliano per unacultura di nonviolenza e di pace). Each co-chair shared the work that is being done in the countries that they were working in and the impacts of their work.

Both representative of the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy will be publishing more detailed reports of the events. If you have any further questions about the event you can either read the report or contact either of the two representatives directly.

Arundhati Bose:

Asad Saleem: